Unveiling the Progenitors of Short-duration Gamma-ray Bursts

While long-duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs, duration > 2 sec) are linked to the catastrophic deaths of massive stars, until recently, the progenitors of short-duration GRBs (duration < 2 sec) were uncertain. Over the past two decades, theoretical predictions pointed to a compact object merger progenitor, which are the premier candidates for gravitational wave signals detected by Advanced LIGO. In this talk, I present the most robust observational evidence to date that short GRBs originate from the mergers of compact objects. I also present preliminary evidence that some short GRBs are collimated in narrow jets, which has significant implications on the merger event rate. Finally, I investigate the next steps for short GRB science prior to the first gravitational wave detections.

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